Current or former military members who are interested in attending college may be curious about whether or not it is possible to receive college credit for their military training, and if so, what this process entails. Earning credit for time served in the military is an attractive option, as it can save time and money for students. Below, the major steps that individuals must follow in order to ensure that their time served in the military transfers into college credit are highlighted.
Step #1: Request a Military Transcript
Before students can earn college credit for their military experience, they must first request a military transcript from their respective branch of the military. Individuals who serve in or served in the Army, Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard can all request a Joint Services Transcript (JST), which will summarize all of that individual's military activities, including work history and any education and training they may have received. However, Air Force enlistees or veterans will need to go through that branch's system, the Community College of the Air Force, in order to receive their transcript.
Step #2: Choose a College or University to Attend
Once an individual possesses their military transcript, they will likely want to begin researching different colleges and universities. It is important that prospective students research schools carefully, paying special attention to their policies regarding the transfer of military service for credit, as these policies may vary greatly among schools. Some schools may be particularly military-friendly and have programs that are designed to help veterans or currently enlisted military members transition to the college environment. Such schools are also likely more familiar with the process of transferring military training for college credit and may have counselors who are dedicated to working with student military members.
When looking for military-friendly schools, there are a number of ways in which to identify them. Veterans who are looking for military-friendly programs may want to search for schools that participate in the Yellow Ribbon Program. This program helps provide funding for veterans at approved institutions of education that support the program. It is also helpful to look for schools that offer a discount to military members or specific military scholarships, as well as points of contact for military members. Study.com provides a number of resources that students may be interested in as they search for military-friendly schools:
- Military-Friendly Schools That Accept ACE Credit
- How Your Military Experience Can Help You in Community College
- Best Colleges for Military Credit Transfer
It may still be possible for students to enroll in other schools that do not have these types of military-friendly programs, though their transfer policies may be less transparent and students may have to be more proactive in making sure they are able to earn credit for their military experience.
Step #3: Decide on a Degree Program
Depending on an individual's experience and training in the military, they may choose to pursue a degree program that aligns with their previous work history. This may be a particularly good idea if their past training allows them to earn credit through the transfer process that will count towards a degree in a field in which they already have experience. For example, individuals who worked as engineers in the military may be able to earn credit from that experience that fulfills some of the foundational requirements of an engineering degree, though it is unlikely that students will be able to earn credits towards advanced coursework.
It is also important during the process of researching colleges and universities to look at the types of degree programs that each one offers, as not all schools offer the same programs.
Step #4: Complete the Application Process
After researching schools and degree programs, students will then need to complete the application process. This entails filling out an application form for the school or schools that an individual is interested in applying to and submitting a number of supporting documents that admissions committees will use to determine whether or not to grant admission. Typically, this includes letters of recommendation, a personal statement, standardized test scores, and a CV or resume. Additionally, military members or veterans will need to provide their military transcript.
Once accepted at a school, the institution will initiate the transfer process and students can then see exactly how much credit they will receive for their past military experience. If individuals are not happy with how much credit they have received, it may be possible to appeal the decision if they have a strong argument as to why they deserve more credit.